Discrimination in employment may take many forms, but some types of behavior occur more frequently. A recent report by the EEOC finds that retaliation is the most often alleged type of discrimination. It found that the number of allegations of retaliation had increased during the five years from 2009 to 2013, as had findings of retaliation.
What makes retaliation claims somewhat surprising is that employers are often found guilty of retaliation in cases where the employer was not found guilty of discrimination in the underlying allegation.
This is not that surprising, as valid discrimination claims are nonetheless difficult to prove at times, but retaliation claims may be more obvious, involving more focused behavior.
There may also be the element of the employee has become acquainted with their rights and may have worked with an attorney, so when the retaliation begins they recognize it and are better prepared to document the behavior, making litigation more successful.
Another element is human nature. A manager or supervisor may be surprised that they or their department has been accused of some form of discrimination. Even if they believe there was no discrimination, they may be stung by the allegations.
While businesses like to present the impression that management is akin to a “science” and that their managers behave rationally at all times, the reality is people, no matter how highly placed and credentialed, can feel hurt and desire petty revenge for perceived wrongs.
Once an employee has raised accusations of discrimination, a manager may begin to treat him or her differently. Retaliation, like other forms of discrimination, can be subtle or very overt.
The EEOC notes in one case, a manager found guilty of retaliation was overheard to say, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” Such a statement from a manager is the epitome of the wrong response. Managerial or supervisorial employees must be trained to avoid this behavior and if they cannot, they should be removed from their position as unqualified.
(To be continued.)
Source: fedweek.com, “EEOC Examines Retaliation in Workplace,” August 26, 2015